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Brain Surgeon-Turned-Ceramics Artist Discusses Craft at Block

Cliff Lee previews upcoming American Craft Exposition at Northwestern University

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June 27, 2012 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Widely-exhibited and collected artist Cliff Lee, who turned to the craft after working as a neurosurgeon, will discuss his intricate porcelain pottery and meticulous artistic process at Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 21. A coffee reception at 9 a.m. precedes the lecture.

The Block Museum is located at 40 Arts Circle Drive on the University’s Evanston campus. Free parking is available. 

Free and open to the public, Lee’s talk at the Block is co-presented by the American Craft Exposition (ACE), an annual juried show of fine craft organized by the Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem in which Lee regularly participates. ACE will be held from Aug. 24 through 26 at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion, 2311 Campus Drive, on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. Tickets for ACE are available at americancraftexpo.org. Proceeds from ACE support breast and ovarian cancer research.

Born in Vienna and raised in Taiwan, Lee attended medical school in the United States, specializing in neurosurgery. He began creating ceramics as a way to relieve the stress of his medical career, but eventually gave up his surgery practice to devote himself full-time to the craft.

Lee applies the precision and patience he needed as a physician to his art. He is known for works that mimic flowers, gourds and other natural forms and for recreating centuries-old Chinese glazes, including a rare yellow glaze used by the Ming dynasty that took Lee 17 years to reformulate.

Lee’s work is in the collections of numerous institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, White House, Smithsonian Institution, Yale University, and the National Museum of American Art.

Visit blockmuseum.northwestern.edu or call (847) 491-4000 for more information.

Topics: Campus Life